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Marino, Bledsoe Not Even Passing Acquaintances in Preseason

Quarterbacks Dan Marino of Miami and Drew Bledsoe of New England were expected to have their teams challenging for the AFC East Division championship.

With the Patriots struggling with a 3-6 record, that showdown might not materialize, but Dan Marino of Littlerock High and Drew Bledsoe of Palmdale will have one of their own Thursday night.

The winning team will finish third in the Golden League and qualify for the Southern Section playoffs.

Marino is Littlerock’s tight end. Bledsoe is Palmdale’s center.

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Neither player with a famous namesake knew of the other before the season. “I read about it in your newspaper at the start of the year,” Marino said.

Bledsoe was unaware of Marino until Monday, when he saw his name in Palmdale’s weekly scouting report.

“Too bad he doesn’t play nose guard,” said Bledsoe, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound junior. “That would be a good one.”

As one would expect, Bledsoe’s favorite professional player is Bledsoe. Marino’s is Marino.

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Littlerock’s Marino claims to be a distant relative of the Dolphin quarterback. “I’ve never met him,” said Marino, a 6-4, 210-pound junior, “but my dad and him were born in the same town [Pittsburgh] in Pennsylvania.”

Palmdale’s Bledsoe has an even more tenuous connection with the Patriot quarterback.

“When Bledsoe was drafted, a lot of my mom’s high school friends called to congratulate her about me getting picked,” he said, adding tongue in cheek, “Every now and then, people hit me up for a loan.”

For the record: Burbank High cross-country runner Trevor Marca wants to set the record straight.

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The Bulldog senior recently sent a letter to The Times pointing out that the Burbank boys--not the Canyon girls--were the first runners from the region to wear the Breathe Right Nasal Strips, which are the rage among NFL players.

Canyon, the state’s top-ranked Division I girls’ squad, gained some attention for wearing the strips at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational on Oct. 21. But Marca wrote that “Canyon simply stole our idea when they saw us at the second Foothill League [meet]” a week before Mt. SAC.

“I do realize that we are not the first people ever to wear the nose strips,” Marca continued, “but giving the Canyon girls credit would be like giving the rooster credit for the sun rising.”

Old rivals: Taft High will meet Palisades today in the City Section 4-A Division girls’ tennis playoffs. No surprise there.

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Taft has played Palisades in the City playoffs every year since 1987. The only difference is, in the past the teams always met in the final. This year, they will square off in the first round.

Taft, which won City championships in 1992 and ’93, this year barely made the playoffs after finishing third in the Northwest Valley Conference. The Toreadors are seeded sixth in the eight-team 4-A bracket. Palisades is seeded third.

They got suckered: Because the Cal State Northridge football team didn’t bring Cal Poly San Luis Obispo any treats, they got tricked.

The Mustangs burned the Matadors on two well-executed trick plays during their 49-7 victory Saturday.

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Cal Poly scored the first touchdown of the game when third-string quarterback Nate Ecklund, wearing No. 86 instead of his usual No. 12, took a cross-field lateral and then threw downfield to a wide-open Jon Peck for a 33-yard score.

On the kickoff after Northridge’s only score in the third quarter, about six Mustangs huddled around the ballcarrier so the Matadors couldn’t tell who had the ball. Antonio Warren emerged and returned the kick 45 yards.

Quotebook

“I know Dave isn’t going to get any coach-of-the-year honors for his defense.”

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--Former Cal State Northridge football Coach Jack Elway, on his former player and assistant coach, Dave Baldwin, who has led Northridge to a 2-6 mark this season.

Baldwin’s reply: “Or the offense.”

“They didn’t put it together all season long, but today they sure did.”

--Thousand Oaks High cross-country Coach Jack Farrell, after Newbury Park upset the Lancers in the boys’ race of the Marmonte League finals Friday.

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Honors

Keith West, a senior forward on the Cal State Northridge soccer team, has been selected Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Pacific Division player of the year.

West led the eight-team division with 49 points on 20 goals and nine assists. He is third in the nation in scoring.

Northridge’s Matt Davis and Ron Lou were named to the second team, and Ross Linhart and Brandt Marott received honorable mention.

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Things to Do

Zuzana Stunova of Rio Mesa High and Kara Warkentin of San Marcos, both ranked among the top high school players in Southern California, meet today at 1 p.m. in the Channel League individual tennis final at Pierpont Racquet Club in Ventura.

Stunova, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, is ranked fourth in the Southern California Tennis Assn. 16-and-under age bracket. Warkentin, seeded second, is ranked 14th in 18-and-under.

The Channel League doubles tournament also will be played today at Pierpont. The final is at 3 p.m.

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Poly High senior Uzziel Gray, Monroe junior Ali BenMohamed and El Camino Real freshman Jamie Newman lead the local entries in today’s City Section cross-country prelims at Pierce College. The meet starts at 1:45 p.m.

Contributing: Jeff Fletcher, Dana Haddad, John Ortega, Peter Yoon.


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